Saturday, May 25, 2013

My creepy wild forest

I spent this weekend lazing around at home, soaking in the art of doing nothing. In my mental 'to-do' list lingered the long pending dusting, tending to the little balcony garden that was getting wild and reading Fritjof Capra’s, The hidden connections, all in no particular order.

It has been a couple of weeks that Capra's Hidden connections has been besides me on my bed now. 
This one is not one of those unputdownable ones that grips you and engulf you with a passion that cannot stop until you reach the climax and then linger around for a while taking in the little joys of a creative price of work. ( The last I experienced this was a couple of months ago with Amitav Ghosh's 'Sea of Poppies' ) 

Capra is a slow and steady read... that lingers on and on. It is a book you can pick up and flip through any page any chapter, depending upon what takes your fancy and reflect upon it like a cow chewing its own cud.
Some chapters are heavy on me and some are not. It is one of those profound reads that can linger around you if you need a book to put you to sleep.     

When I linger around like that for too long, I get my guilt pangs especially when it is broad daylight and I am still curled up with a book on a day when I do not have to go to work ( read weekend). Today was no different. It was time to get up, atleast to finish those necessary chores like breakfast and then settle down to sip a cup of mint flavoured tea with mint picked up fresh from my little garden .

My humble balcony garden is now getting to be a little wild forest.
My little wild forest  is partial to climbers and creepers. It is not like we do not have plants.  But it is the creepers that seem to thrive. They just creep up from nowhere and climb all over the balcony. I try and tie them connections to creep around, but they seem to follow a pattern on their own. 

Podalangai ( snake gourd) amidst pudina (mint)
There is this seedling that has sprouted in my garden.
The amazing thing about this is that we never planted it.  Sometimes we leave our vegetable waste as compost for the soil in the pots. There were a few seeds that were drying up on one of the pots and it is possible this one flew by or was pollinated by a pigeon or honey bee or any other insect that visits our mini forest and placed it into the pot where we were growing mint ( pudina). It must have been one among millions that was destined to come to life, and sprout. It might flower and then spread its seeds, create more life and then wither away. Who knows ...
Ah … the power that lies in a single seed.
It is amazing to see it all unfold before your eyes.  

Amma, who is a natural in identifying plants,. says this creeper is podalangai. (snake gourd)
It needs lot of climbing space and spreads deep roots.  She is not sure how it will cope up in a tiny shallow pot.  

However I am optimistic. Our earlier success with bitter gourd 
( Karela) makes me look up to podalangai with equal optimism and excitement.

Amma said something about podalangai’s life cycle in tamil that was very profound. 
Apparently the maturity phase of podalangai is like that of little girls. They just suddenly grow up and before you know they have procreated and their youth has withered away.

So true of that journey from girlhood to womanhood. … I am eager to watch it unfold with the Snake gourd creeper in my garden.
Drooping Papaya

Another one of those seeds was that of a papaya.  It sprouted and took a life of its own in a flower pot that would have been smaller than a fully grown papaya fruit. Determined to get it to live and grow, I did the most practical thing that I could have done. Uprooted it from the small flower pot and planted it in a big  gardening bag filled with rich soil nutrients brought from a nearby nursery so that its roots could spread themselves broad and deep  when they grow up. Two days later I am not sure if my decision was a right one.  The little papaya plant has drooped and is not taking to its displacement from the place of its birth very well. Only time will tell if it will live on.  
I wish it does.  In an ecosystem overly partial to creepers and climbers we need diversity.  I do want to see a tall papaya tree flourishing and flowering in my balcony.

Fingers crossed for now.         

 Around September last year, this was a Shankh pushpi creeper that had grown, flowered, propogated plenty of pods of seeds before a white insect epidemic took over and destroyed it along with the Karela 
(Bitter gourd) creeper in our garden who grew up in the same plastic container that had once been a five litre potable bisleri water-can before it got bruised and dirtied to be declared unfit for carrying clean drinkable water. I picked it up for ten bucks from the waste paper mart round the corner. 
Shankh pushpi I ( June -Dec 2012) 
Pods and Seeds of the aging Shankh Pushpi ( dec 2012)

Karela ( Bitter Gourd) harvest Oct 2012

With a heavy heart I uprooted the two creepers and gave them the burial that was akin to two living beings who brought so much joy and happiness ( flowers and vegetables) into our hearts (and stomachs)  as they passed through their life cycles in a span of few months.

Second Generation Shankh Pushpi growing wild  


The bisleri water-can turned plastic flower pot that nourished them had been lying empty for a while. A couple of weeks back, just out of nowhere the hardened stem started sprouting fresh leaves and the creeper is back spreading itself wild all over the balcony albeit in a different direction in which its parent spread itself.

Seeing the second generation of Shank pushpi creeper flower away gives me a feeling of now being something like a bhishma pitamaha ( a veteran ) of the little species of plants in my garden.

I do some dusting around the house to make up for lack of any physical exercise and then spruce up the garden a little bit to evade the guilt of being a couch potato and then curl up to a few more pages of Fritjof Capra.

The lines that I now flip through ring a new meaning and perspective into me….

‘...when  we look at the world around us , we find that we are not thrown  into chaos and randomness but are part of a great order, a grand symphony of life.  Every molecule in our body was once a part of previous bodies – living or non living – and will be a part of future bodies. In this sense , our body will not die but will live on, again and again, because life lives on. We share not only life’s molecules but also its basic principles of organization with the rest of the living world. And since our mind, too, is embodied, our concept and metophors are embedded in the web of life together with our bodies and brains. We belong to the universe, we are at home in it, and this experience of belonging can make our lives profoundly meaningful.’
Page 60 – The Hidden connections - A science for sustainable living – Fritjof Capra -  Harper Collins- 2001
A flower blooms far away from chaos  

Chaos in order

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